I’m going to relate a legend told to all Cowichan children, a legend as old as the skies and as vast as the waters.

The People relied on the tremendous bounty provided by the Rivers Cowichan and Koksilah, but once, long ago, the salmon stopped swimming and the waters ran quiet and still. The wise People sent up prayers and walked along the banks to see what caused the Rivers distress. At the mouth of the Cowichan River, they found the culprit. A mammoth Killer Whale took up residence there and ate all the fish before they entered the Rivers’ waters.

Although the brave People mounted an attack from their war canoes, the beast remained. Medicine People organized the People, and they prayed for four days and four nights until the Tziquaw (or Thunderbird) heard their pleas. With a clap of its mighty wings and bloody battle, the Tziquaw dislodged the Killer Whale and banished it to the sea. The fish returned to the rivers, for which the People thank the Tziquaw.

coastal salish thunderbird